Lots of people want to be writers. Lots. But very few people actually bother to write anything, other than e-mails and work reports and boring things like that. Does that mean that writing is hard? Well, no, of course not. Anyone who is literate can do it. But it does take desire, effort, and, very importantly, time.
Most people who have tried to write fiction have heard of Heinlein’s rules to writing. Robert Heinlein was a famous science fiction author, and one of my personal favorites, who willingly shared his rules on writing with others way back in the 1940’s. You can search the internet and find these rules, but the first is the most telling.
Rule #1: You must write.
It seems simple, but it isn’t, for a number of reasons. Maybe you don’t feel like you have any ideas. Maybe you’re scared to try something new. Maybe you’re more of a dreamer than a do-er. But time always seems to be an important factor.
Let’s face it: it takes time to write. And time is something that none of us ever seem to have enough of. As such, it’s the primary excuse people who wish they were writers use to excuse themselves for not writing. Is it really the main thing keeping people from pursuing their dreams? I doubt it. But it’s a great excuse.
In my case, I have a full time job. I have a family, including a small child (as any parent can attest, children are a time black hole). And I have numerous interests, including reading, playing video games, watching sports, and exercising, and yet still I find time to write, both this blog and fiction. So how do I do it?
Part 1: Choosing your Passion
When I first decided I wanted to be a writer (and yes, even unpublished writers are writers), I somehow thought I would be able to squeeze my writing into my already cramped schedule while still doing everything else I had already been doing.
I soon realized that this train of thought was, quite simply, ludicrous. My day was already completely full of stuff – all kinds of stuff. But that doesn’t mean my day was full of stuff that was really important to me.
And that’s the key. You have to figure out what’s really important in your life, and prioritize. To me, my family is the most important part of my life. I won’t skimp on time spent with family. My job is also important, for obvious financial reasons. That means that time spent writing had to come from the remaining pool of time I spent on everything else.
So, I prioritized. I spent less time watching TV. Less time playing video games. Less time aimlessly surfing the web. Less time watching sports (my resolve is constantly tested during college football season). I still exercise twice a week, as my health is important, and I still read, as it’s important for any writer to read prolifically. But most of my extra time now goes towards writing.
I think the main point here is that you have to actively CHOOSE to do something you are passionate about over doing other things that you are indifferent about. If you truly are passionate about a topic, you can and will find time to squeeze it into your schedule, and if you find that you simply can’t make time for something you think you are passionate about, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate your passions.
In upcoming posts, I’ll go more into detail about other ways to free up time for writing.
Image credit: By Dennis Gnad, published under the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, via Wikimedia Commons.